Wiretapping Laws in California
Wiretapping is an issue that most people hear about in television shows or political events (like the Watergate Scandal with President Nixon). The crime, however, is not exclusive to powerful individuals or dramatized shows. It is important that everyone understands wiretapping, how it can occur, and the penalties for those found guilty. This article will provide a summary of the crime, but those with more questions are encouraged to contact us at the Law Advocates Group.
What are the elements of the crime?
In broad terms, wiretapping occurs when someone taps into your phone line or communication method, and that tap allows them to listen in on your conversations – without you knowing. While police officers can have legal permission to do this in some cases, it is illegal to wiretap in all other situations. More specifically, wiretapping involves using an instrument to gain access to a person’s phone, reading or listening to a phone’s messages, and then using the information obtained through the wiretapping. To “tap” a phone line implies there is a physical line you’re tapping, but this law applies to any phone – even cell phones.
Penalties for wiretapping
Wiretapping penalties depend on the discretion of the prosecutor and the context of the criminal case. Therefore, a person found guilty of wiretapping charges can face either a misdemeanor or a felony. While a misdemeanor can require a jail sentence, a felony can impose a steeper penalty of up to three years in jail. On top of a jail sentence, the person may have to pay fines, as well.